On the Road Exploring Restaurants Inspired by Great Chefs
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Good Food in IRVINE is it Possible
Jidori Chicken, Notice the Egg
Just when you think it is impossible to get good food in Orange County you get taken by surprise. Straight from San Diego comes Cucina Enoteca sister of Cucina Urbana. Here is my OC dilemma, every time I go to OC and want to entertain it seems that I am left with the same old tired restaurants that have been serving Steak or Fish since 1970. Cucina Enoteca is a place where you can get good food and wine for a reasonable price and it is memorable. Both restaurants have this great policy where you can buy wine from their retail store at prices 30 to 40% less than restaurant prices and pay a $8 corking fee. Let's get to the dining!! Tonight I was with my friends JT and Paul. Paul was visiting JT and I from Virginia and I wanted to make sure that we found a great place to write about. Cucina Enoteca is a large space that is very open with a 20 foot ceiling. When you walk in you notice that there are rows of wine like you would find at any fine wine retailer, as you walk around them the restaurant opens up and you can see that the kitchen is open so you can watch them prep the meals. the bar sits in the middle of the restaurant but it seems that it is floating. Enough with trying to make you feel like you are there. Let's talk about the food. We started with the Brussel Sprouts, the Squash Blossoms stuffed with Ricotta and the Gorgonzola and Walnut spread with toast. I would say that the Brussel Sprouts were spectacular and the 2 others were just great. Paul ordered the Jidori Chicken and the Egg, in this case it was easy to determine what came first, because to enjoy it you had to bust the egg to dip the chicken in the yolk. Paul said it was delicious and personally it was the most unique presentation. JT had the Berkshire Pork Chop which our Waiter Kasia said had papers (honestly she did) looked pretty darn good and as usual JT allowed me to make sure that his meal was not poisonous by taking the first bite, it was delicious. I had the Osso Buco which was very tender and very colorful. It was served traditionally with Polenta.
Cucina Enoteca is a winner and I recommend that when in Irvine skip the Steakhouse.